by Ben Funkhouser
The Pharmacy are on their way to New Orleans. These guys have been around for nearly a decade. Since The Eds and The Terrordactyls, Brendhan Bowers and Scott Yoder have been playing music together. After gaining (and losing) Joey Seward’s bass/synth thrashing, noisy Plan-It-X Festing, redefining themselves as “psychedelic/thrash,” releasing another album, and playing a ton of shows for sweaty kids, they’re leaving the Northwest for Louisiana. On January 2, they decided to play their last show as a Seattle band at a basement venue that I will not name for the sake of keeping it around. I watched A Million Years Ago play inspirational power pop, TacocaT with their riot-grrl pop sound, and The Raggedy Anns, who sound like a combination of punk and swing. Finally, The Pharmacy were up. Stefan’s keyboard broke for no reason, so he played a backup. Their set list contained old songs, classics and others. Their first song was my favorite -- Fedex Planes. Thrashing and crowdsurfing, some other old fans and I screamed our way to the synthy mess at the end yelling “your’re the one that I’m dreamin of!” at the top of our lungs. That band carries an energy that has stayed the same since they were 19 and 21 years old, when I first saw them. The show got really wild, and many times Scottie got hit in the face with the mic. This last show took me back to sophomore year, when I lived for the Pharmacy. Back to freshman year, when I had nothing to be proud of, living on Vashon Island, but the Pharmacy. Back all the way to 7th grade, thrashing in a park building by the library on Vashon, seeing them for the first time. This band has had a huge effect on me, and no matter what they do, they always will be great.
A Million Years Ago
The next day, I headed down to Olympia with some buddies, which turned out to be a great idea. We wanted to see Finally Punk play at Old School Pizzeria. Fave local band Talbot Tagora was playing too. Sex Vid were also playing, a band I had heard great things about, but never seen. Olympia is a great town, good food, good people and good vibes. After eating a fried burrito and jamming in the Evergreen dorms, we headed to Old School. I bought some pizza and chatted with Mark from Talbot while they set up. Chris Ando, who sings the most in Talbot Tagora added some kind of vocal layering stuff, that I didn’t really understand, but seems to add to the vocals, in cases when sound people don’t understand the need for quiet vocals. Tonight, as usual, they played an excellent set, with a new song. “Mixed Signals Through Miles of Pilgrimage” starts with some bass to guitar harmonics and the usual Talbot style of rhythmic punk. Chris stretched his voice on it, going a little louder and higher than usual. After, I picked up a tape of theirs and waited for Finally Punk. That band is so fun. All-girl funk punk described by Tobi Vail as “equal parts Mika Miko, Lungleg and Meltdown. Hilarious, true and liberating. This is just as fresh-sounding as those Kleenex 7″s you are hunting for, and it’s happening today!” which is pretty close to accurate. They switched instruments every song. Veronica Ortuño chipped her tooth singing “What the Fuck, Missle.” Rad. Best of the night, however, goes to Sex Vid. This band is like Spazz, Phobia and Combatwoundedveteran, with some wild Megadeth guitar leads, barely audible under the wall of sound. Needless to say, I thrashed. I thrashed hard. Left bruised. Ate more food. Next day went home. Slept.
Finally Punk played at 4PM at Vera the next day. I sleepily made my way over. Talbot Tagora played again. Yep. It was good. Then Flexions. Also good. TacocaT, good. Finally Punk played nearly the exact same set. It was really fun, again. I danced a little, socialized a little, bought a shirt and went home. Slept.
Ben Funkhouser is a former KEXP programming intern turned weekly columnist. He his column, Oh, Messy Life, will focus strictly on the all-ages music in Seattle. He also is the booking assistant at the Vera Project and writes for Public Access Media.